The COVID Travel MOU allows for operational jumpseats in bidpack trips with limitations – particularly limiting the number of 767 jumpseats. It does not, however, affect revisions, x-pairings, or personal jumpseats. Although rarely used in pre-COVID times, it is important to note that business necessity deadheads on Company jumpseats are contractually allowed in some situations (8.A.3.c and 8.A.3.e).
When there is a revision, CRS is typically selecting the quickest/easiest solution, without doing what we would consider normal due diligence. Pilots should understand that they have a personal responsibility to verify things like fatigue mitigation, social distancing, and layover length/quality. The normal safety nets found in the bidpack process are not in place on revisions and X-pairings.
Captains should remember that they have the ability to turn off the “auto-approval” function in the Freebird Jumpseat system. Although the ability to have flexible jumpseating is a critical part of our job, during this time, reviewing each circumstance is important. Consider the equipment you are on, the length of the flight, and the destination. If your entire crew had to quarantine due to a positive case later discovered onboard, it may not be a big deal in Anchorage but it likely would be in Hong Kong.
Be proactive about finding a better solution. Often there are other legal flights with fewer jumpseaters and less potential for virus transmission or close contact labeling. If you discover a better plan (different deadhead flight, timing of deadhead, a jumpseat that would reduce crowding, etc), it is up to YOU to call the scheduler, file an INSITE or, if time is limited, contact the Duty Officer. They have been receptive to alternative plans, but they do not always have the resources to generate said plans. In short, do not be shy about taking control of your own health and safety.